As more and more school districts, colleges, and universities turn to mobile devices to enhance learning, understanding how students use those devices becomes important. Purdue University conducted as survey in the fall of 2011 to find out which gadgets its students were using and if they had a preference between device-neutral web applications or “native” apps built for a specific platform.
Student Preferences of Mobile App Usage, by Kyle Bowen, director of informatics, and Matthew D. Pistilli, research scientist for information technology at Purdue, didn’t try to settle the debate on which mobile category was best, but rather tried to determine what was being used and on what type of device.
The report, recently released by Educause, found that 83% of the 1,566 responding students owned Android phones or iPhones and that the same percentage felt they had intermediate or advanced skills in using their preferred gadget. The study found a significant number of students spent more time using native apps to access course-related tasks and viewed the apps as faster and easier to use, but added that those numbers may have more to do with the marketing of apps.
“It is clear that students who own smartphones have owned them for some time—the vast majority for a year or more,” the researchers wrote. “Further, they spend hours each day consuming everything that smartphones have to offer. This level of usage presents a great opportunity for institutions to deliver new services and technologies—not by creating a new destination but by claiming a virtual footprint in a place where students are already spending considerable time.”